Employment Advice


I thought I would like to become a desktop support person, but have no confidence. I am 41 years old, and live in England. I have done some minor qualifications (city & guilds level 2 in IT support/systems & principles, MTA's in OS, Networking, & Security). I am trying, and struggling, to get a level 3 apprenticeship, as I am told that I have enough to apply for desktop support jobs.

I have three questions

1. Can anyone tell me if there is a way that I can practice troubleshooting? I don't know loads of people with computers that need fixing. Is there anywhere that I can access some sort of setup, where desktop support is simulated - I.e. where I am told there is a problem with a computer, and then I go into a lab and try to fix the issue.

2.Can anyone suggest good courses which would really improve my confidence, bearing in mind that money is definitely an object.

3.Is desktop support a good way to go, or should I do something else? Can anyone tell me the best thing to get into, considering my age, and the few qualifications I have. Is software a good place to go? I have not done any programming yet.

If anyone can help, I would be really grateful. I really need this.



Posts: 1,881   +2,199
Staff member
England isn't replete with desktop support jobs, as many companies out-source this to external bodies who, in turn, out-source the work to other countries. However, there are some out there and the pay is pretty decent (even if the work can be dull/intense, depending on the circumstances).

Take this job advert, as an example. Note the skill list they're after - they need somebody who is particularly knowledge and insightful with Windows 10, Active Directory, Office 365, and basic functionality of PC/laptops. By day, I'm a UK college lecturer in mechanical engineering and computing (specifically programming and game development) but I can easily do all of the above.

What I can't do is prove that I can on paper, as I'm entirely self-taught. You already have a start in this area, so it's now about bolstering your CV with as much specific training as you can. For example, Microsoft does a number of free training online events.

The various might not be very good nor all of them particularly relevant, but the knowledge will be useful and they can help strengthen your application. Another option to consider are Microsoft Certification Training programmes - these are almost never free and may well teach you nothing you don't already know, but again, it's about raising the profile of your knowledge and understanding.

Here's one such example. Now those course fees are extremely high and typically out of reach for individuals. However, some institutions, such as City & Guilds, offer bursaries to make their courses more accessible to adult learners looking to retrain or expand their career.

The UK government also offers what are called Advanced Learner Loans, which are especially useful at getting funding to cover the cost of larger qualifications. It is only available for Level 3 to 6 courses, though, and only at approved education centres, such as local colleges. And it is to these that I would suggest you turn for further training advice; any decent college worth its salt will provide career and training advice and guidance.

As to your first query, when examining apprentices, I would have to set up a system with a number of faults (relevant to the unit being assessed) that they would have to identify, plan a solution, and carry it out. With software-related units, I would just bork the necessary elements (a key system file, folder location or name, etc), image the drive, and then reinstall the image for each system being used by the next apprentice.

It would have been nice to have a suitable simulation setup to do this but I'm not aware of anything like this existing at any reasonable cost (our department budget certainly couldn't afford very much). So how does one get such experience? Typically through being an apprentice, of course, but some employers may take people on for short periods of work experience - contact as many places around you as you can. Most will probably say no but you may get lucky.

And luck is often the key element here. Apply for jobs, even if you think you don't have the necessary qualifications (but still believe you can do it!) - the employer may not offer you that particular role but may feel you'd fit in somewhere else. There's no central database of employers telling each other about applicants, so cast your net far, wide, and frequently.


Posts: 597   +138
TechSpot Elite
Neeyik's answer is more Pro but I think you can hang a shingle >> Trand's Computer Repair anytime you want, because it is still the Wild-Wild-West out here. Although I got a few certifications before I started my IT career 16 years ago it was hanging a sign that said "Open for Business" that got me started. I still work alone and I have never regretted my work-from-home idea that turned out to be prescient due to COVID.

There are many aspects to this business from software to hardware problems right down to micro soldering. I started a thread here on some real world problems but it has had pretty much zero interest:

I really like to watch Northirdgefix on micro soldering and diagnosis technique on YouTube. No way you wouldn't love that guys channel. If you go into server OS then you could just spend a whole career there doing server admin duties, security and firewalls. The possibilities are endless.